As the folks living near the High Line know, if you’re going to have a really expensive park in your neighborhood you’re going to pay for it one way or another (but, hey, property values go up!). There they have a tax and a business improvement district to help foot the bill on the city’s most expensive park, something officials behind the quickly, fancily expanding Brooklyn Bridge Park had planned to avoid by building condos on park property, but now local groups are proposing other options to pay the park’s $16 million annual maintenance costs.
The Brooklyn Paper, Daily News and Carroll Gardens Patch (and others) explain that the alternatives were put forth at a Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation meeting yesterday at the Brooklyn Heights branch of the Brooklyn Public Library by a group dubbed the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund.
Among the alternatives to building condos (and a hotel) on park land (which would generate between $8 and $9 million) is the High Line-style creation of a local Park Improvement District that would charge local businesses and residents within a quarter-mile of the park maintenance fees. That would raise between $3 and $7 million annually for the park, or maybe almost as much as building condos therein. Other possibilities would involve building offices instead of condos, charging fees for the use of recreational facilities (say, $5 for every individual dog run, $10 per journey down the playground slide, etc.), and allowing more concession carts.
Meanwhile, State Senator Daniel Squadron championed another alternative not included in the report: potential revenue from the conversion of the very large nearby Watchtower properties—about to be vacated by the Jehovah’s Witnesses headquarters which are moving out of town—into residential properties. Judi Francis, Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund president, echoed the sentiment: “The big kahuna is the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They know it and we know it.” Local Jehovah’s Witnesses were flattered, but assured us they’re merely loving, normal-sized kahunas. Question remains: how many kahunas in $16 million per year?